One question I get asked a lot is how we manage to have a well-decorated home with a toddler and two dogs. I’ve had friends tell me that they could never worry about making their home pretty because their kids might destroy it, or their pets create too much mess in their home for it to ever be worth their time.
It always makes me sad to hear this, because it’s not hard! I promise I don’t have any crazy secrets for keeping our home pretty, I’ve just made some careful choices that allow me to have a beautiful home and a toddler/pets.
I wanted to share some of my thoughts here today about how to decorate your home if you have wild children or pets. None of these ideas are particularly revolutionary, and you shouldn’t expect your mind to be blown by them. However, sometimes we don’t think about even the most simple ideas when it comes to stuff like this, and it’s easy to feel like all is hopeless when the solution is actually right in front of your face.
Goodness knows I’m the queen of making problems bigger than they need to be.
So, here are 6 of my favorite tips for creating a beautiful and family-friendly home. It’s easier than you might think. Promise!
- Look for durable flooring and rugs. For me, flooring is key to keeping my house feel clean. I hate carpet because it always looks like a mess, and when I have time I like to vacuum or sweep every day. Kids and pets aren’t exactly cooperative when it comes to a clean floor. At least, mine sure aren’t. That’s why it’s so important to pick flooring and rugs that can handle a lot. We have vinyl plank flooring throughout our house and love it – it’s so incredibly durable and almost impossible to destroy. When it comes to rugs, we go for heavily patterned rugs and bonus points if the color vaguely resembles dirt (see: the rug in our living room). We also tend to go for more affordable rugs, since we know they’ll take a beating – I’m not about to spend a ton of money on something that my dogs are going to track mud on every single day.
- Be considerate in the fabrics you choose. I know that we all know that some fabrics are more forgiving than others when it comes to stains, but do you also think about the color and pattern of the fabrics you’re choosing? Over the years, we’ve learned that certain colors or patterns just don’t work for our family, while others are great. For example, we had white bedding for a few years, but thanks to muddy dog footprints and a ridiculous doggy ear injury, it was impossible to keep clean. People always say you can just bleach white bedding and it looks good as new, but ours was so bad that even bleach couldn’t help. Now, we stay away from bedding that has light colors or large areas with white – it’s just not worth the hassle! We also take this into consideration when we’re choosing rugs – ones that have a lot of tan tones in them are perfect for hiding dirt and grime. When it comes to throw pillows, we always look for pillows with removable covers, and we stay away from anything with a lot of white in it – our dogs are constantly climbing all over the sofa and they love to lay on the pillows. It’s not worth the hassle of constantly spot-cleaning them, so I’m pretty picky about the pillows I bring home!
- Keep breakable objects up high. Before I had kids, I always rolled my eyes a little when I heard people talk about how they can’t have nice things or fancy decor because of their kids. Now? I get it. Kids are sticky, clumsy, and awkward. Anything that you don’t want to be transformed into a toy really needs to be kept out of reach. But! Just because your kid runs around like their veins have been pumped full of maple syrup, that doesn’t mean you can’t have anything nice. You just have to be a little more considerate about the placement of your decor. We still have plenty of breakable decor pieces throughout our house, but we’re creative about displaying them in places where they’re safe from rogue toddler fingers. The fireplace mantel is a great place to keep some of the more precious decor pieces, and our bedroom is a pretty safe space too, since Jackson never hangs out in there without one of us present. If you’re feeling limited in your options for decorating with kids or pets running around, just try to get a little more creative with your placement and think about the places that aren’t a typical pathway for the madness. For example, our dogs have paths that they generally run through our house, so I know that it’s a rarity for them to run in the kitchen or in the back end of the dining room. Those would be safe places for me to put more breakable items – the living room is a total play zone for everyone in the family, so I need to be more careful in there.
- Look for multi-functional pieces. I love using furniture in my home that looks good, serves a purpose, AND helps keep kid or pet supplies tucked out of the way. For example, the sideboard we have in our entryway – it’s pretty and it serves as a great place to drop off your keys when you get home from work, but it’s also stuffed full of baskets that hold toys, dog supplies, and random household essentials. Jackson knows how to access the toys whenever he wants them, so even though all of his toys stay put away, he has the freedom to get them out whenever he wants. The dresser under our television is the same way – it acts as a pretty piece of furniture to sit under our TV, but it also stores DVDs, our television components, Jackson’s art supplies, and a few other various things. When I’m looking for new furniture pieces for my house, I’m always thinking about how things can serve more than one function to help me keep the clutter under control!
- Remember that kid furniture doesn’t have to be an eyesore. We resisted any kid furniture at all for a while with Jackson, but we quickly learned that for our lifestyle it is inevitable. We love to have Jackson play in the living room and be a part of the action, and he’s a lot happier when he has things dedicated to facilitating that. We’ve got a play kitchen and a toddler table in our living room, and a step stool in our powder room downstairs and all of them add to the decor, not detract from it. It’s all about customizing what you find and making it fit into your home – it’s easier than you’d expect!
- Don’t ever forget that baskets are your friend. I say this all the time but it’s worth repeating again – baskets are seriously the best investment you can possibly make when it comes to keeping toys and other clutter under control. We have 8 different baskets in our living room alone full of Jackson’s gear, and there are tons more throughout our house. It’s not hard to find really pretty options that aren’t too expensive, so they look great in your home and keep things looking cleaner too.
See? Nothing crazy or out-of-the-box. Just simple, practical, and creative solutions to everyday problems.
Now, I want to hear your favorite tips for keeping your home looking beautiful when it sometimes feels like a zoo. Do you have any clever solutions for decorating around the kid and pet insanity? Do spill!